Hazy Outlook for Santiago

Santiago Chile is one of the most important financial and industrial cities in Latin America, and accounts for nearly 45% of the entire country’s GDP, but it has a nagging problem. Smog.

The city is home to five million, and is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and as of the 25th of May, everyone in the city had been living under an environmental alert due to the extreme nature of the smog.

It’s not from a lack of effort or exceptional pollution, rather, the city is located between the Andes and Chilean Coast Range, which causes the air to become trapped in the city. Airflow is generally stagnant, which means the city rarely receives much needed ventilation which would circulate and sweep the congested air from the city. Dry weather, and the high altitude of the city don’t help either.

Santiago has implemented a range of policies to try and reduce the congestion. One of the main reasons for creating the “Transantiago” public transportation system in 2007 by consolidating,  and synchronizing their buses and metro lines, was an attempt to reduce the resulting pollution due to excessive numbers of private buses. The city also has resorted to restricting the number of vehicles on the city streets during a given day by temporarily banning vehicles in blocks based on their license plate numbers. During the current situation, they have also placed restrictions on burning fuel with any type of biomass (including wood).

Physically removing part of the Chilean Coast Range to allow for more air flow has been discussed, demonstrating the severity of the situation, and the difficulty of resolving the issue.

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